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South Asia Department

Modern Bengal: the Evolution of Bengali Culture & Society from 1690 to the Present

Course Code:
155901271
Unit value:
1
Year of study:
Year 3 of 3 or Year 4 of 4
Taught in:
Full Year

Bengal (now West Bengal and Bangladesh) has played a vital role in the development of modern India, operating as the major locus of British rule in the colonial era and later as a centre for the development of nationalism. Scholarship concerning Bengal has occupied an important position in the reconfiguration of historical thinking in fields including area studies, new British imperial history, postcolonial studies, global history and subaltern studies. This course will provide students with a broad grasp of the evolution of modern Bengali culture, history, society and arts (including cinema, painting and songs as well as literature) and will provide an understanding of how the present-day political, cultural and religious division of Bengal into West Bengal and Bangladesh has emerged. This regional history will be contextualized within a broader analysis of the ways in which concepts including nation, gender, race, religion and empire have been interpreted and reconfigured by scholarship concerning Bengal. 

The course will round off BA South Asian Studies for students who have chosen Bengali as their main language and will be highly suitable for students of BA History Students who do not know Bengali will not be disadvantaged, but those who do will be able – through options in their coursework and in the exam – to explore the language’s cultural context.

Prerequisites

None

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of the course, students should have a broad grasp of the evolution of modern Bengali culture, history, society and arts. They should also have an understanding of how the present-day political division of Bengal into West Bengal and Bangladesh has emerged, and of the cultural and religious differences between the two parts of Bengal. Students should also have an understanding of the ways in which scholarship concerning Bengal has influenced methodological and philosophical developments in a variety of academic fields.

Workload

Total of 22 weeks teaching with 2 hours per week divided into a 1 hour lecture and a 1 hour tutorial.

Method of assessment

One three-hour written examination taken in May/June (60%); one essay of 2,500 words to be submitted on day 1, week 1, term 2 (15%); one essay of 3,000 words to be submitted on day 1, week 1, term 3 (25%).

Suggested reading

A comprehensive reading list will be available to students at the beginning of the course